Orphan Care, Uganda

Why We Are Here (May 11, 2010)

We are on our way to Adecar (pronounced Adachar by the locals). This community has the most needs of any we’ve visited so far. We are excited to see George, our sponsored child, as well as the whole community, which we now count as our extended family.

At the other care points that we’ve visited so far there have been about 100 kids. In Adecar, we have close to 400. Many of the needs are clear in the eyes of the kids, which are yellow from malnutrition. It doesn’t seem to dampen their spirits or their smiles though.

I play soccer for a while. The kids laugh at me as they kick the ball through my legs. Each child wants to challenge me to a one-on-one or a sprint. A teenager turns to me and asks that I take him to America. “Where?” I ask. “Anywhere is fine,” he replies. My heart hurts a little.

I sweat through my shirt and decide to rest and paint nails for a while. All of the kids (male and female) want their fingernails painted. One child has 6 fingers and seems shy about holding out her hand. Megan pulls up her hand, smiles and paints all six nails like nothing’s wrong. The child smiles back.

We find George. He’s trying to hide from us. Scared of the mazungos (white people), I guess. Some teens — thinking that they are helping — spank George to get him to speak to us. We run to stop them. I hold out a lollipop, and George stops crying. Candy — the international language. I tell him that I’m his sponsor and ask if it’s ok to hold him. The woman holding his hand translates. He nods his heads and walks into my arms. He weighs about the same as my own son. He rests his head on my shoulder and sucks on his lollipop. We stay that way for a while.

Lunch is served. I marvel at how hard the women work to cook for hundreds of children. I’m exhausted watching them. George hops down from my arms and runs to the front of the line. Sadly, we run out of meat for the kids. It’s the one day of the week that they get meat. With the money we’ve raised for the trip, we’re able to buy 1600 kilos of posho, which will last for a little while.

Worried about the rain, Joseph hurries Melanie and I off to visit Bosco, our sponsored child in Ngarium (they are expecting us the next day, but the roads are impassable in the rain). We arrive to see the community planning a banquet to honor us for helping to save Bosco’s infected leg. (Last year, we helped Bosco get surgery to keep him from dieing from an infected leg wound.) Unfortunately, we won‘t be able to participate in the banquet, since we are a day early, but we are able to sit with Bosco and his family along with other community members. Melanie gives Bosco a Kentucky shirt and his mother a dress and then shows Bosco photos of our family back in the U.S. as Joseph translates the captions.

And now I’m back in bed wishing I could have done more for Bosco today, but knowing that we will see each other again. Tomorrow is our last day in Adecar … the last community we will visit for our trip to Africa. I’m sad. Well, it’s time for me to go to sleep. Some animal (sounds like a lion or a pack of wild dogs) is howling outside the back gate, and bats are having some kind of mating ritual in the open attic above our hotel room. Do mosquito nets keep out bats?!

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